Students call for more gender-neutral bathrooms

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Alice Salgado de Almeida Leme

For some students, having to choose between gendered bathrooms can be difficult.

For many students at Carlmont, gender-neutral bathrooms create a comfortable and safe space, especially for a community with various gender identities. 

Carlmont only has one gender-neutral bathroom, located in D-hall, and since teachers prefer students use the bathroom closest to their classroom, accessing the bathroom presents a challenge for students who want to use these facilities.

“As far as I know, there’s only one [gender-neutral bathroom], so students who are gender fluid, non-binary, or don’t feel they fit into the two categories of bathrooms we have at the school, have to make that trip just to go to the bathroom and feel comfortable and accepted,” said sophomore Isabella Ingrao, who uses she/her pronouns.

With all-gender bathrooms, students who are closeted or identify as not having a gender or a different gender are able to use the bathroom without fear of being judged.

Carlmont’s campus map, which shows all the gendered bathrooms, circled in red, and the gender-neutral bathroom, circled in green. (Alice Salgado de Almeida Leme)

California has spearheaded the effort to promote the idea of gender-neutral bathrooms. More than five years ago, a gender-neutral bathroom law was passed in California, which stated that all single-user toilets in public spaces, including schools, must be open to all genders. 

This bill called attention to the issues that plague the gender-nonconforming and transgender community. According to a study by Reuters, 60% of transgender people in the U.S. avoid public bathrooms for fear of being harassed.

Students who are gender fluid, non-binary, or don’t feel they fit into the two categories of bathrooms we have at the school, have to make that trip just to go to the bathroom and feel comfortable and accepted.”

— Isabella Ingrao

While this progress has been welcomed by the student body, some students still hold reservations about the bathrooms. For others, the issue is that the gender-neutral bathroom has not been promoted enough.

“I see a lot of students who are gender non-conforming, non-binary, whatever it may be. And they didn’t even know about the gender-neutral bathroom. Also, one side is pink, and one side is blue, and those colors are associated with a gender,” said junior and Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) president Avantika Swaminathan, who uses he/she/they pronouns. 

Other students at Carlmont mentioned the need for more widespread gender-neutral facilities. To these students, more gender-neutral bathrooms would help normalize their use, making gender-nonconforming individuals feel even more welcome and accepted. 

Summing up the sentiments of those advocating for more gender-neutral bathrooms, sophomore Rory Chamberlin, who uses they/he/she pronouns, noted the significance of a safe space for those whose gender identity and expression prevent them from feeling comfortable in gendered restrooms.

Chamberlin said, “I think creating a space that feels like anyone is welcome to use is important for LGBTQ+ students at Carlmont.”

The only all-gender bathroom is located in the lower section of D-hall. (Allison Hoang)